Nokia's Navteq purchase faces European Commission probe

Fears that Nokia, the world's biggest mobile phone manufacturer, might muscle out rivals in the market for GPS navigation devices, the European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation of the Finnish company's plans to acquire Navteq, an American producer of digital maps, the regulator.

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Fears that Nokia, the world's biggest mobile phone manufacturer, might muscle out rivals in the market for GPS navigation devices, the European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation of the Finnish company's plans to acquire Navteq, an American producer of digital maps, the regulator.

Navteq is one of two producers of digital maps that cover all of Europe -- the other is Dutch firm Tele Atlas, itself part of an ongoing in-depth merger investigation by the Commission.

"The Commission's initial market investigation has indicated that the proposed merger raises serious doubts with regards to vertical competition concerns," the Commission said in a statement.

In light of the duopoly in the market for navigable digital maps and Nokia's strong position on the market for mobile handsets, the deal might "lead to a significant impediment of competition," it said.

The Commission has until Aug. 8 to reach a conclusion about the deal.

Meanwhile the separate probe of TomTom, a Dutch firm hoping to acquire Tele Atlas, has been extended to 21 May, after the regulator and the companies agreed more time would be useful, Commission spokesman on competition issues, Jonathan Todd, said Friday in an interview.

The market for satellite navigation devices, which has emerged over the past five years, is undergoing rapid consolidation.

Garmin, in the US, tried to acquire Tele Atlas last year but was outbid by TomTom.

Garmin, meanwhile, struck a deal with Navteq, giving the device maker access to Navteq's maps until 2015.

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